The other side of Priyantha…
Though most people know him as a popular film director and a screen writer, who created cinematic hits such as ‘Adaraneeya Kathawak’, ‘Dedunu Akase’ and ‘Dehena’, where he established himself as a filmmaker at the age of 19, little do we know that Priyantha is also a lyricist who has made his contribution with his song writing skills to several films and teledramas. He also had his first experience of penning down several songs to Chitral Somapala’s (Who was his classmate at Isipatana College) ‘Sinhabhumi’ which was his first Sinhala rock album. He is also the CEO of Creative Force, a leading film, television and audio production company in Sri Lanka, which has created many influential commercials and documentaries for prestigious brands, TV programmes and teledramas. Right now, He is directing the popular teledrama ‘Sakuge Lokaya’ , which has become a much beloved production among the audiences, both young and old, steering ahead on a successful journey . This is a sequel to ‘Sakuge Kathawa’ which was telecast earlier, and has earned much respect and admiration among all, bringing somewhat a difference to the usual practice of showing useless and meaningless mega tele dramas.
Q: What are you up to these days?
At the moment, I’m busy with directing ‘Sakuge Lokaya’ , and ‘Mandara’ which is due to be released sometime soon.
Q: Though you are known as a seasoned film-maker and producer, you are also popular as a song writer.
I write the lyrics for my songs, films etc. If there is some philosophy, experience or a background story included in my creations, then I include it by writing a song based on the subject.
Q: How many songs have you written so far?
There are several! I wrote the lyrics for a song in movies like ‘Arumosam Wehi’, ‘Adaraneeya Kathawak’, ‘Dedunu Akase’. ‘Sithuwili Pura’ the song ‘Sihinaya Pupura Yai’ became very popular. It had several versions sung by Chitral Somapala, Kushani , Uresha Ravihari and also Kasun Kalhara. In the first series of ‘Sakuge Kathawa’ I also added one my songs. I also contributed for ‘Mandara’ and also penned down several songs for Chitrals album ‘Sinhabhumi’.
Q: What do you think about the modern musical reality show concept?
The reality show concept is very popular among young people. In some international reality show programmes you can make out the talented performers. But after that, if there is no academic background or guidance, his or her talents are in vain. If they need to continue with their musical journey, there should be a proper academic background, knowledge and experience. They should be allowed to build a foundation and identity for themselves, to establish themselves in the field. Those days, all our veterans came through musical institutions such as the SLBC. Those especially such as Sunil Shantha , came from a good academic background and had a good foundation to establish himself as a good musician.
Q: But some have established themselves well in the musical field, coming through from reality musical programmes.
Some newcomers who came through reality shows are very talented. Some have their own unique voices. Some have come through not only talent, they have become popular for their performances onstage and appearance. Most of these newcomers are not able create an image on people’s minds for long, because they are not able to produce a unique song of their own. They will be able to succeed if they are given proper guidance and an academic knowledge.
Q: How has the present Covid situation has affected the cinema and music industry in general?
The Sri Lankan music scene is based on open air concept. It’s also based on musical shows, and weddings. And these days doing a visual for a song is compulsory, or else it wouldn’t get proper promotion or marketing. Those days have gone when songs were promoted only over the radio. All these need to be done on a financial budget. So I really think the decision of the government to open at least for a limited number of people. It’s the responsibility of the musicians, artists, and those who are relevant to adhere to the proper health guidelines and do the needful.
Q: Do you think that we get any meaningful, creative song releases nowadays?
We are going through a generation gap now. Some people might say that the old hits were much better than what is being played on air now. But my opinion is, musical eras go through all sorts of changes from time to time. We see a lot of young talent out there. They create their music based on the culture, situation and society which they see and live in. Therefore, we cannot blame them. We only have to give them proper guidance and show them the way. Ironically, if these youngsters were allowed to study in a musical institute like the Shanti Niketana or Bathkande, who knows? they would have used that experience also to create a classical music style of their own and succeed.
Q: What is your target audience as a lyricist, and whom do you mostly cater to?
Most of my songs are based on family and the young generation, their feelings and their lifestyle. I had my first experience of contributing to my first ever Sinhala rock album, Chtiral’s ‘Sinhabhumi’. We had a great line of song writers such as Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe , Rathna Sri Wijesinghe, Mahagamasekara, etc. From my childhood I was inspired by these people, particularly Sunil Shantha, whom I was fascinated by his musical style and skills, and created the path for me to become a song writer.
Q: Any other productions coming up?
At the moment I’m occupied with ‘Sakuge Lokaya’ and in the process of adding the final touches to my movie, ‘Mandara’, which I hope to release once the Covid situation has settled down. I’m also writing scripts for a few teledramas and other productions, which would hopefully be telecast soon.